2016 MARCH

Heli Rekula

Heli Rekula: Garden 1 (Red), 2012, C-print, Diasec, framed, 100x180cm.

An artist known for her staged portraiture and landscapes, Heli Rekula has long worked with concepts of the self, such as ideals of beauty and normative constructions of identity. Her multidisciplinary work combines photography and moving image with installation art.

Heli Rekula: To Gertrude Stein, 2013, inkjet print on Baryte paper, silk screen on glass, framed, 40x34cm.

Rekula's portraits are often photographic evidences of staged performances. Albeit not visually as pronounced, the concept of performance is just as inherent to her photographic landscapes. They serve rather as memoranda of her transient presence than images of the locations as such. She calls her landscape works “experiential notes,” attempts at recording the situated experience of “settling into landscape” preceding the very same recording.

While the landscapes in her earlier work were left to tell their own stories, a recent fixation with Hemingway’s Home Museum in Key West Florida stirred her relationship to places and spaces. First visiting as a tourist, Rekula found herself returning to the place over and over again, as the place begun to resonate with her own experiences and family history of three generations. An exhibition and a book, Hemingway’s Garden set her photography to a new direction with the combination of documentary and historical materials. It also set a beginning to a trilogy, forming around places, distances, histories and identities.

These works provide the background for her ongoing doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. Her research project The Absent Body discusses the relation of the work process to the presented work of art within the practice of staged photography. Rekula is also known as former Professor of Photography at the Department of Fine Art in Bergen Academy of Art and Design, and she is currently also a Senior University Lecturer in Aalto University’s Department of Photography.  

Heli Rekula: Garden 3 (Grey), 2012, C-print, Diasec, framed, 50x56,5cm.

Heli Rekula is FCINY's artist-in-residence in March 2016. During her one-month stay in New York, Rekula will further her research project and the second part of the trilogy, As the Crow Flies.